Summary: Being in God's hands is, or course, a place of comfort and safety, but it's also a place in which we find ourselves to be acountable for our faithfulness. Also, since God's Hands are the Potter's Hands, being in His hands is a place of utter surrender.
Precious Lord, take my hand, Lead me on, help me stand...
He's got little bitty baby in his hands; he's got you and me, brother, in his hands; He's got the whole world in His hands...
Why should I feel discouraged; why should the shadows come; His eye is on the sparrow and I know He cares for me
Most of you know the words to these old hymns. Many of you could sing along (if you had a pastor who could sing), and all of you have clung to these truths at some point in your life. We all fall. We all get lost. The storms of life batter us, and in a world where we're often just a number, it's comforting to know that God has His eye on us, and that we're safely in His hands. Take comfort in this truth: we're in God's hands and He will never let us go. According to the 139th Psalm, we are never, no matter how badly lost we are, beyond God's reach. I praise God for this because I was badly lost myself before I came to Christ. Friends, we can neither live with courage, nor die with grace, unless we're in God's hands. So, cling to this promise and sings these hymns of comfort with everything you have.
But there's another sense in which we're in God's hands, and it, too, is a very powerful truth. There's more than being comforted in our Christian journey, as important as it is. Indeed, our Christian journey also involves accountability. God comforts us, no doubt, but He also expects us to live as if He (and He alone) is Lord. He forgives us,it is true, but it's also true that He loves us enough to reshape us, or even, remake us, whenever He chooses. God may well choose to wipe our tears away, but He may also choose to break us down and start over again. Friends, as our Potter, God can have His way with us. It's that simple. He's not obliged to accept pottery that is slightly flawed, or totally a mess. He can remake or reshape His pottery whenever He chooses. He is the Creator and we are His creations. He is the Potter and we are the pottery. He is NOT our "big buddy in the sky." He is not "our co-pilot," and certainly not a "cosmic vending machine" that gives us whatever we want. God is our Potter, and we are utterly and completely His. This is what it means to be in God's hands! Of course, when God gave Jeremiah (ch. 18) this message about the potter and his pottery, God had consequences in mind. Israel had been sinning (again). They had given themselves to idolatry. They were rejecting God's blessings because they were rejecting His lordship, and He was telling them that their unfaithfulness would not be accepted. When we persist in sinning and refuse to repent, God may break us down and remake us, as a potter reworks his pottery. Being chosen is a blessing AND a responsibility. Therefore, when we're in God's hands, we are both comforted and challenged. We are sheltered in many ways, but we're also accountable for the way in which we live our lives. We are "saved to serve," and God may choose to remake us if we're not "useful" for His purpose.
Thus, being in the Potter's hands, is a matter of trust, but it is also a matter of surrender! When Christ bids us to "follow him," He bids us to "come and die." This is what Bonhoeffer said, and it's what we claim every time we have a baptism. Being in God's Hands is a matter of surrender, and our comfort is not in thinking that we will be okay, but in knowing that whatever happens will be okay. If the potter makes me into a beautiful and expensive piece, that's great; if he makes me into a small, non-descript piece, that's great; if he puts me front and center, that's great; if he puts me in the corner, or in the back room, that's great; if I'm a King, that's great; if I'm a pauper, that's great; if I'm handsome, that's great; if I'm homely, that's great... if I can see myself as pottery and be content in whatever form God has created me, then I will have come to spiritual maturity. If I can turn my life over to God, without strings and in good faith, I will live a rich life, and I will not fear either today or tomorrow. Jesus calls us to "measure the costs" and to understand that we can never look back if we put our hands to the plow. He calls us to yoke ourselves to him and in "being yoked," we will find meaning, joy, and authentic freedom. Being in God's hands is comforting and challenging. It involves reward and punishment, affirmation and correction, admiration and reworking. Mostly though, it involves surrender and acceptance. Once we see ourselves as pottery, we will be content with whatever shape or purpose we have, and then we will know a peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.